Oregon House approves tax on businesses to fund schools

SALEM, Ore. —  Lawmakers in the Oregon House have approved a bill that would invest $2 billion in Pre K – 12 Education.

According to the Oregon Education Association, under House Bill 3427, it would be the largest education investment package in Oregon history. However, the huge boost to Oregon schools would come from the creation of a new business tax beginning in January 2020.

Businesses that bring in at least $1 million in sales each year would pay for it.  About 40,000 of Oregon’s 460,000 businesses would pay the tax, according to Chris Allanach of the Legislative Revenue Office.

“It will be a new tax that is based on their commercial activity basically on their sale of good and services,” Allanach said. “They’d pay $250 and a 0.57% tax.”

Medford Republican Representative Kim Wallan said Democrats are pushing the bill too quickly and said the ripple effects need to be considered.

“Republicans are concerned that we will be painted as having voted against education when in fact we are looking to not damage the economy,” Wallan said.  “Portland size business will have a much easier time absorbing it then we will in southern Oregon and it’s a significant hit to us and I think that we would like to see it funded differently.”

Ashland Democratic Representative Pam Marsh said it’s an investment Oregon needs to make now.

“We’re trying to pass this bill to change the tide,” Marsh said. “There is a lot of excitement. I mean we have seen disinvestment in Oregon schools for decades.”

If it passes the Senate, Governor Brown has said she will sign it. Meanwhile, teachers are so concerned about education funding, many districts have already canceled school on May 8th as massive teacher walkouts are planned statewide.

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